Findings from a Constructing Excellence in Wales (CEW) report points to evidence that cavity wall insulation or external wall insulation, undertaken as part of energy improvement work in homes across Wales has been installed in unsuitable properties, or without due regard for best practice.
The report, Post Installation Performance of Cavity Wall and External Wall Insulation, highlights the requirement to ensure that surveys correctly assess a property’s building materials, its state of repair and exposure before any refurbishment recommendations. Once refurbishment works commence they need to be undertaken with appropriate materials, on-site workmanship and care to detail as well as handover to the householder and property managers.
CEW has frequently talked of Wales’ housing stock: one third was built pre-1919 and that its characteristics contribute to high fuel poverty rates. Ensuring that energy efficiency retrofit works are undertaken appropriately and with due care is therefore critical to help reduce household energy bills as well as contributing to carbon emission reductions and a more sustainable environment.
This was the rationale for CEW commissioning the BRE to undertake a review of cavity wall and external wall insulation installations in Wales. The report outlines the potential issues and unintended consequences regarding the retrofitting of cavity wall and external wall insulation to properties in Wales. A call for evidence provided responses from more than 30 sites across Wales and representing more than 300 properties. A number of sites were visited for more in depth site surveys to be undertaken.
The findings are indicative of work undertaken in the past 10 years and the report builds on the body of evidence emerging that across the industry efforts must be renewed to pursue best practice.
Through completing this work BRE identified two best practice case studies in North and West Wales. CEW remains confident that the issues and unintended consequences outlined within this report can be overcome. The policy and training agendas, as well as the supply chain itself, is already working to avoid the same shortcomings in future refurbishment works. The main recommendations of this report are as follows:
- To undertake a larger and nationally representative, primary data collection exercise in Wales to identify the extent of the issues which have been identified.
- To undertake an assessment of the competent person’s scheme, in particular the surveying and installation elements, with a view to providing specific guidance for improvements to processes such as the assessment of risks regarding the level of exposure to wind driven rain.
- To develop a concise maintenance guide for installers, housing managers and occupants to help ensure that basic measures are taken to protect the insulation installation and thus make failure less likely.
Milica Kitson, chief executive of CEW said: “We need to ensure that surveys correctly assess a property’s building materials, its state of repair and exposure before any refurbishment recommendations. Once refurbishment works commence they need to be undertaken with appropriate materials, on-site workmanship and care to detail as well as handover to the householder and property managers.”